The First Candidate

Posted: January 3rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1,082 Comments »

The first rumor regarding Chip Kelly’s new personnel guy is in. Mike Florio has the scoop.

The first name to emerge as a serious candidate for the position belongs to assistant director of player personnel Ed Marynowitz.  Pronounced man-o-witz, he joined the Eagles in 2012 after a stint with Alabama as Nick Saban’s director of the team’s recruiting efforts.

Marynowitz previously worked with the Dolphins in 2008, under V.P. of football operations Bill Parcells and G.M. Jeff Ireland.

The end result will be a power structure similar to the one Bill Belichick enjoys in New England, with the head coach running the show and a right-hand man setting the table from a personnel standpoint.  Roseman will be responsible for negotiating the contracts with the players Kelly wants, and managing the salary cap.

Of all the in-house guys, this makes the most sense to me. Kelly is an unconventional guy. Marynowitz has more of a college background than a pro one. He’s been in the NFL long enough to know what he’s doing, but he’s not a pure NFL executive. I mention this because sometimes NFL guys get stuck in a certain way of thinking. Marynowitz was the Director of Player Personnel for Alabama from 2008-2011. He did recruiting and helped the coaches to know who the top high school players were. Marynowitz understands how to identify talent and build a roster.

Since coming to the Eagles, he’s done the same type thing. He hasn’t been the key guy in the NFL process, but he understands how things work. Combine that with his ability to identify talent and you can see where Marynowitz could be a good fit for what Kelly is looking for.

How would this be received by the scouting staff? Marynowitz isn’t an outsider, but he is young. Anthony Patch has been with the Eagles since 2002. He’s currently the Director of College Scouting. Patch is the most qualified person for the position, but Kelly might see him as a Roseman guy. Or he might not want someone that is an NFL lifer. We can only speculate.

NFL scouting jobs aren’t easy to get so it isn’t like Kelly has to hire someone that the scouts will love, but you would prefer a group that is all on the same page and works well together. Marynowitz may have the personality to pull that off. Consider this tweet from former Eagles scout John Middlekauf.

That’s some high praise.

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Sam Lynch brings up one negative in regard to Marynowitz.

That may not seem like a big deal since it was his first job (UCF in 2006), but it does show the fact that he cut some corners.

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A couple of misc thoughts on the personnel situation…

* Chip Kelly is not looking for a “Yes Man”. Kelly wants an independent thinker who can help the team find talent. Kelly does want someone that will understand he runs the show. This won’t be a democracy. Kelly will listen to the new guy’s opinion, but the decision will be Kelly’s.

* I don’t think Howie Roseman’s background had anything to do with his falling out with Kelly. Is there a more unorthodox coach than Kelly? His most valued assistant is the DL coach. One of the key members of his staff used to work for the US Navy. Kelly’s Chief of Staff has a Nutrition degree from Nebraska. The assistant DL coach was the athletic director at a high school when Kelly hired him.

Chip Kelly does not care about tradition. He wants the right people who can get the job done.


Nuts and Bolts

Posted: January 3rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 439 Comments »

Now that we know the news, let’s examine what it means a bit more. Howie Roseman is out as GM and Chip Kelly will get to hire someone to help him run the personnel side of things. What actually is going to happen?

Kelly will hire his version of Tom Heckert. The guy won’t come in to be the GM. He’ll probably be given the title “Player Personnel Director”. This guy will do all the dirty work of dealing with scouting reports and putting together the draft board. He will constantly keep track of NFL transactions so the Eagles have an up to date list of the top available free agents at all times. This work is time consuming and isn’t something a coach can do.

Kelly is going to be the decision-maker. It is up to his new PPD to give him all the information so he can make decisions and figure out what he wants to do. But wait…couldn’t Howie Roseman have done this? Yes, and it is what happened to a certain extent. The difference is that Roseman also had a strong say in what happened. The new PPD will have his own opinions, but he won’t be a decision-maker. He will clearly be “Kelly’s guy”.

Heckert and Andy Reid worked well together with this set-up for several years. Eventually Heckert wanted more power and left the team so he could go be the GM in Cleveland and run his own show.

Kelly will likely hire an up and coming personnel guy or an older guy who needs a job. Either way, he’ll want someone who is happy to be the #2 guy. I’m working on a list of potential candidates. I’ll have that posted Sunday or Monday.

The most interesting aspect of this for me is trying to figure out what Kelly wants to be different. How did he and Roseman differ when making plans and decisions? I always felt one of Roseman’s strengths was his ability to adapt. He brought in a variety of players in a variety of ways. He found 3-4 guys and Wide-9 guys. I never got the feeling he was dogmatic about things having to be done a certain way. We saw him trade up and trade back. He was willing to be creative and adjust to the situation at hand.

But clearly Kelly felt something was holding back his vision for the team. He now has total control and makes all the key decisions. Jeff Lurie said this about Kelly and how things went down.

“There were no demands, no threats – quite the contrary – he was passionate, engaged and articulated a dynamic and clear vision on how this fully integrated approach will work.  We look forward to seeing it come to life over time.”

Kelly came to the Eagles knowing his Oregon ideas would need to be integrated into the NFL way of doing things. Kelly must feel that the new set-up will help him build the team the way he truly wants it. I don’t know what this means exactly. Kelly might be more aggressive with going after players he covets. Maybe he pursues a trade for Dion Jordan. Maybe Kelly goes all out and puts some mega-deal together to go after Marcus Mariota (which I still see as a near impossibility…nobody wants to drop from pick 1 to pick 20).

More than likely, the differences will be subtle to those of us on the outside. But they will be clear to Kelly and that’s all that matters. He knows what he wants and now can go get the players to try and bring his vision to life.

I’ll cover the risks of this move in another post. I’m an optimist by nature and I’m more fascinated with how it can go right more than how it can go wrong. Kelly is a smart man. He didn’t win some petty power struggle for the sake of getting to say “I’m the man!!!” Kelly wants to build an elite team. He felt this was necessary for that to happen. You can bet Kelly has plans, for how to go about hiring his PPD and for what he wants to do in the offseason. I’m excited to see how this unfolds.

I know some people don’t like giving all the power to one person. The truth is that it doesn’t matter if you go with that set-up or if you use the model of a strong GM and strong coach. The key is hiring the right people to bring the plan to life. Bill Parcells won 2 Super Bowls while working with a great GM in George Young. Bill Walsh won 3 Super Bowls while running his own show. We’ve seen organizations with a very balanced power structure fail miserably.

To me, this is simple. If you think Chip Kelly is special, and I do, you give him what he wants. I think Kelly has the knowledge, vision and management skills to run the show. He’s not your typical coach that lives and dies with a voluminous playbook. Kelly already does things with Sports Science that other coaches would delegate away. I think Kelly can absolutely handle this.

Will it work? We have to wait and see on that. I know I’m excited to find out.


The Chipadelphia Eagles

Posted: January 2nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 462 Comments »

Chip Kelly is the man. No, I mean…THE MAN.

Jeff Lurie moved Howie Roseman from the role of GM to ” Executive Vice President of Football Operations”, where he will continue directing contract negotiations, salary cap management and NFL strategic matters, while overseeing the team’s medical staff, equipment staff and more. This is bad and good news for Howie. The bad…he lost his GM job. Those are coveted positions and guys rarely get a second shot after the first job. The good news…Howie will stay employed and making good money. There are more than a few former personnel executives out there grinding for money.

Kelly will get to hand-pick the new GM. The guy’s title will be something less than that since Chip will be the Grand Poobah, but essentially he will run the day-to-day operations of the Personnel Dept.

Here is Lurie’s explanation.

“In the normal process of evaluating the end of the season, I meet with key executives for thorough discussions and evaluations of all aspects of football operations. During those lengthy meetings this week, we discussed a comprehensive approach on how to seamlessly integrate the personnel and coaching departments in order to maximize every facet of the process.

“Working with Chip (Kelly), Howie (Roseman) and Don (Smolenski) we came up with what we believe will be a more thorough and thoughtful model that would best be overseen by Chip. It’s most important that we find players that match what our coaches are seeking.

“This new approach goes even further than we have in the past starting with Day One of the scouting process. This is part of an all-encompassing vision that takes you from the scouting process all the way to on-field performance.

“Howie, Chip and Don are all united in their desire to win. Together, we decided this approach was the best course of action for the Philadelphia Eagles.

“You have heard me say many times that I want strong leaders who feel free to express their opinions.  And that is what happened here. Chip will now lead this process going forward with the continued full support of Howie, Don and myself.

“Chip will not be doing this work by himself, obviously. He has been charged with recruiting and hiring a new personnel executive that will report directly to him and together we will move forward with this new, highly integrated approach.

“When I said – after the Giants game – that Howie was returning as general manager next season, I meant that. But after carefully listening and reflecting on the lengthy discussions that I had with our senior team, I changed my mind.

“I have a very good relationship with Chip that continues to grow stronger and stronger. When we spoke, he was thoughtful, thorough and professional. There were no demands, no threats – quite the contrary – he was passionate, engaged and articulated a dynamic and clear vision on how this fully integrated approach will work.  We look forward to seeing it come to life over time.

“Let me also stress that Howie will continue to play a vital role in our operation. He has been elevated to the role of Executive Vice President of Football Operations and received a contract extension.”

“In closing, we have looked hard at where we are today and what we want to become. We are all united in our desire to win for this city.”

This really should be no surprise to anyone paying attention to history.

Back in 2001 GM Tom Modrak and young coach Andy Reid had a battle for control of the team. Modrak was fired and Reid given control. He hired Tom Heckert to be his right-hand man.

A couple of years ago there was another battle for control. This time Reid went up against Joe Banner. Lurie sided with Reid, and got rid of his childhood friend.

Jeff Lurie appreciates the value of a great coach. He kept Reid in the past. You knew he would keep Kelly in this situation.

Is this too much power for Kelly? I don’t think so. He’s run a program in college where he had to recruit and coach players. He’s been active in the offseason with scouting already to this point. Kelly is consumed by football. This won’t keep him from his family. Football is his family.

I think Kelly is open-minded and listens to others. I don’t think he’ll turn into a Mike Ditka type that trades all his picks for some RB that he falls in love with. Kelly came to the NFL and hired coaches he didn’t have close relationships to. He didn’t surround himself with friends and sycophants the way Steve Spurrier did. Kelly was smart enough to know what he didn’t know. I think he’ll listen to advisers when it comes to the nuts and bolts of personnel moves.

The key here is that Kelly has a specific vision for his football team. I think Roseman did a good job of trying to find the right guys for Kelly, but Kelly obviously feels that he can do better with different people around him.

I like the move for the simple fact that I think Chip Kelly is a great coach and you have to keep him. You have to do what it takes to make him happy. Howie Roseman did a solid job, but there was nothing special about him. You can replace Howie infinitely more easily than you could find the next Chip Kelly.

There are some issues to be concerned with and I’ll write about them in another post. For now, this is a lot to digest so let’s just talk about the move itself. I will say this. Jimmy Johnson had final say when he built Dallas. Pete Carroll was hired by Seattle when they didn’t even have a GM. Carroll was allowed to hire the GM he wanted. Some coaches need total control to run the program their way. It doesn’t mean things will be perfect, but it gives the organization a more unified feel.

These are now Chip Kelly’s Eagles. Time will tell if this was good move, great move or the beginning of the end for Kelly. No matter what, this will likely prove to be a key day for the Eagles when we look back on things 5 or even 10 years down the road.


Bowl Day

Posted: January 1st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 803 Comments »

Let’s set aside over-analyzing the Tom Gamble situation for a while and talk about some college football.

12pm … Wisconsin vs Auburn

1245 … Baylor vs Michigan State

1pm … Minnesota vs Missouri

5pm … Oregon vs Florida State

830 … Alabama vs Ohio State

I’m not going to write about every prospect, but let’s take a look at some the Eagles could be interested in.

RB Melvin Gordon – UW – Had an amazing season. Doesn’t seem likely the Eagles would spend a 1st round pick on a RB, but they liked a couple of guys that went early last year. Never say never.

OT Rob Havenstein – UW – Huge guy at 6-8, 330. Plays on the right side. Could be someone to draft and develop. Lane Johnson will move to LT somewhere down the road.

WR Sammie Coates – AU – Big, physical WR with good athletic ability. A bit raw, but has outstanding potential.

CB Jonathan Mincy – AU – Lacks ideal size at 5-10, 196, but that might be big enough for Chip Kelly and Bill Davis. Not sure about arm length. Finished 4th on the team in tackles and had an INT.

* * *

QB Bryce Petty – BU – Great stats, but not a great NFL prospect. Is he better than Nick Foles? Matt Barkley? Does a great job of running the Baylor offense, but isn’t special in any way. At his best, is accurate and shows good touch. Experience in an up-tempo attack could make Kelly like him. Also seems like a good decision-maker. Curious to see how he does against a great defense.

WR Antwan Goodley – BU – Lists at 5-10, 225. Physical WR who some have compared to Anquan Boldin. I’m looking forward to seeing him against top DBs.

DE Shawn Oakman – BU – Huge. 6-9, 280. Gifted athlete. Probably won’t make it to pick 20, but if he did you wonder if Kelly could pass on him. As good as Ced Thornton is at LDE, Oakman could give the Eagles an incredible front.

CB Trae Waynes – MSU – Oustanding cover corner with 1st round ability. 6-1, 182. Had 3 INTs this year. MSU likes tough, physical corners and uses them in man coverage a lot. Would be a good fit.

S Kurtis Drummond – MSU – 6-1, 200. Leading tackler for the Spartans and had 4 INTs this year.

ILB Taiwan Jones – MSU – 6-3, 252. If the Eagles want a big run stuffer to pair with Mychal Kendricks in the future, Jones could be of definite interest.

WR Tony Lippett – MSU – Good combination of size and speed. Goes 6-3, 190 and averaged 19 yards per catch this season.

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RB David Cobb – MIN – Has the size I like at 5-11, 220. Ran for 1548 yards. Good combination of toughness and athleticism. Maybe think of him as a more gifted version of Chris Polk. Not sure about him as a blocker or receiver.

DE Shane Ray – MIZ – One of the top pass rushers in the nation. Goes about 6-3, 255. Can play the run and I’ve seen him drop into coverage on occasion. 1st round player.

DE Marcus Golden – MIZ – Better college player than pro prospect, but could be someone the Eagles look at for OLB depth. More effort as a pass rusher than athleticism.

OT Mitch Morse – MIZ – Starting LT, but began his career playing C. Has good size at 6-5, 305. The Eagles would like his versatility.

* * * wrote a piece on prospects in the OU/FSU game. Obviously for us, every Duck is a potential prospect.

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QB Blake Sims – UA – Lacks ideal size at 6-0, 208, but could be of interest in the mid-rounds. Good athlete. Has good accuracy on his deep balls. Able to take advantage of his great WRs because of that.

S Landon Collins – UA – Arguably the top Safety in college football. Big hitter. Can be erratic in coverage, but makes his share of plays. 1st round prospect.

ILB Trey DePriest – UA – Another ILB the Eagles could like. Has good size at 6-3, 245.

CB Doran Grant – OSU – Only goes 5-10, 193, but highly productive cover corner. Had 5 INTs and 9 PBUs.

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Again, this isn’t everyone. There are tons of prospects in these games. I’ll be focusing on DBs and the QBs.


Gamble is Out

Posted: December 31st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 281 Comments »

Here is your first big news of the offseason.

This is an awkward way to start things off. Gamble is a good personnel evaluator. The only reason you get rid of him (which is what happened) is if there was some personality conflict or a power struggle.

Tim McManus was the first to report the relationship between Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman had cooled. This is relevant because Tom Gamble was seen as a Kelly guy. Does this now mean instead of Kelly/Gamble vs Roseman it will now be Howie vs Chip when there is an issue? It doesn’t look good in terms of organizational harmony.

It is possible that Howie sold the idea to Jeff Lurie that he needed more control of the draft back.

We can see the greatness of the 2012 draft class (Cox, Kendricks, Curry, Boykin, Foles, etc). Howie ran that draft the way he wanted. The last 2 classes have shown the influence of Chip Kelly. We don’t know how those classes will pan out overall, but they don’t appear to be anywhere close to the 2012 group.

This is one possibility.

It could also be something nastier, where Howie felt threatened and went to Lurie to fight for more power. I would hate to think it would be something petty like that, but football executives are human beings and will do/say some strange things. Also, these are powerful people and they do have egos. Again, I’d hate to think egos got in the way of trying to win Super Bowls, but we’d be naive not to at least mention the possibility.

This shouldn’t affect the Eagles on a day-to-day basis. Howie is a veteran GM. He’s got plenty of veteran people around him and a full set of scouts out in the field. Gamble’s presence would be most important when putting together the draft board and making decisions during the actual draft. That’s where his experience and knowledge would be most beneficial.

The big fear would be if this strained the Roseman-Kelly relationship. While they may not be best friends, they have worked well together for the past 2 years. If this were to make things really awkward between them, that could set up a future showdown where it is Chip vs Howie for control of the organization. That’s when things would go from awkward to flat out ugly.

San Francisco had a major breakdown this year that led to Jim Harbaugh’s departure for Michigan. The strained relationship between GM Trent Baalke and Harbaugh was a problem for a couple of years. It finally came to a head this season and something had to give. I don’t think the Eagles situation is anywhere close to that contentious, but that’s more a guess than anything else.

It is also possible that the Eagles wanted a commitment from Gamble and he continued to look around for a GM job.

Whatever the reason, this sure doesn’t appear to be good news, but only time will give us a true answer.

* * * * *

Les Bowen offered his thoughts.

Here is a note from Jeff McLane.

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The Raiders may interview Pat Shurmur for their head coaching vacancy. Shurmur is a good assistant and seems like a heckuva guy, but I don’t know why anyone would hire him to be the HC. That doesn’t make sense. He’s not a great schemer. He’s not a compelling leader. There’s nothing wrong with “only” being a good assistant coach.

Good luck to Shurmur, but I think Oakland would be crazy to hire him.